USA affirms tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber imports

by Ray Hunter November 4, 2017, 0:19
USA affirms tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber imports

"The Commerce Department determined that Canadian lumber producers benefited from selling into the United States below fair value and received unfair subsidies that hurt US producers". In its final determination, Commerce said most Canadian producers will pay a combined countervailing and anti-dumping rate of 20.83%, down from 26.75% in the preliminary determination issued earlier this year.

"While I am disappointed that a negotiated agreement could not be made between domestic and Canadian softwood producers, the United States is committed to free, fair and reciprocal trade with Canada", Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in the statement.

The move also increases pressure on negotiators of a new softwood lumber agreement between the United States and Canada.

As a result of the findings, Commerce instructed U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect import duties averaging 20.83 percentt on Canadian lumber imports.

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The preliminary duties have forced Canadian companies to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in deposits, which could be refunded if they win a final ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission around December 18. Canadian unions and lumber companies fear the issue will eventually cause layoffs once prices and demand fall.

The rate for Montreal-based Resolute Forest Products (TSX:RFP) rises marginally to 17.9 per cent from 17.41 per cent and J.D. Irving inches up to 9.92 per cent from 9.89 per cent.

The disagreement centers on the fees paid by Canadian lumber mills for timber cut largely from government-owned land. Canfor rose 0.9 percent to settle at C$25.87, the highest since July 2015, while West Fraser rose 1.9 percent. "Unfortunately, it's the narrow interests of a few greedy lumber barons in the southern states that has led us to this impasse".

The petition was filed on behalf of the Committee Overseeing Action for Lumber International Trade Investigations or Negotiations (COALITION), which is an ad hoc association whose members filed the case on behalf of its individual members: U.S. Lumber Coalition, Inc.

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"We've said all along our (lumber) sector is based on a market economy", McNeil said.

"This is verification of the process working, the way the process is set up to protect us and protect our industry", said Jason Brochu, co-chairman of the U.S. Lumber Coalition and co-president of Pleasant River Lumber Maine. The trade dispute has been an intermittent source of friction for years and was reignited in 2016 when the US lumber industry filed a petition asking for duties. But its demands - which range from requiring that more auto production be made in the having more government contracts in the NAFTA bloc go to USA companies - will likely be unacceptable to the U.S.' two other NAFTA partners, Canada and Mexico. "This tariff only adds to the burden by harming housing affordability and artificially boosting the price of lumber".

In 2016 Newfoundland and Labrador exported $10.5-million worth of softwood lumber to the United States.

While the duties are lower for most producers than first indicated by U.S. officials, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says they are still unacceptable. "These duties are a tax on the American middle-class families, too, whose homes, renovations and repairs will only be more expensive".

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